Types of accommodation


Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 31/05/23


At the end of 2022, the number of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in the reception system was 107,677, which represents a significant increase compared to 2021, when 78,644 migrants were present. Out of the total number, at the end of 2022, 71,882 were in first reception facilities (CAS and first governmental centres) and 33,848 in SAI (former Siproimi).[1]

However, the decrease in the number of persons accommodated and in arrivals of asylum seekers did not lead to an increased tendency to place them in ordinary structures: at the end of 2021, 7 out of 10 asylum seekers were still accommodated in extraordinary centres.[2]

Occupancy of the reception system: 31 December 2022
Hotspots CAS and first governmental centres S.A.I. Total
1,947 71,882 33,848 107,677

Source: Ministry of Interior

As reported by the Ministry of Interior, as of 31 December 2021, the total number of accommodation facilities was 4,225 divided as follows: 4,216 CAS facilities (down from 4,583 in 2020) and 9 first reception centres.[3] Data regarding 2022 are not yet available.

The total number of CAS facilities decreased from 2020 when, according to the data obtained by Altreconomia, the number of CAS facilities at 31 July 2020 was 5,565 and decreased by around 500 units from the 6,004 existing in October 2019. The number of accommodated persons, however, did not drop significantly: at the end of 2021, asylum seekers accommodated in CAS and first reception centres were 52,185, compared to 54,343 at the end of 2020 and 66,958 at the end of 2019. This confirms that, in 2020 and in 2021 the trend of closing smaller CAS continued, as a consequence of the 2018 Decrees and tender specification schemes, as well as a result, in 2021, of the new tender specification schemes.


First aid and identification: CPSA / Hotspots

The Reception Decree states that the first aid and identification operations take place in the centres set up in the principal places of disembarkation.[4] These are First Aid and Reception Centres (CPSA),[5] created in 2006 for the purposes of first aid and identification before persons are transferred to other centres, and now formally operating as Hotspots.[6] According to the SOPs, persons should stay in these centres “for the shortest possible time”, but in practice they are accommodated for days or weeks.  In 2020 and in 2021, due to the COVID-19 emergency, hotspots were used for quarantine and isolation measures (See AIDA Country Report on Italy – 2020 and 2021 updates).

By the end of 2022, five hotspots were operating in Apulia (Taranto, 244 places) and Sicily (Lampedusa, 389 places, Messina, 250 places, Pantelleria, 48 places, and Pozzallo, 334 places). The hotspot on the island of Pantelleria was opened at the beginning of August 2022[7] and is mainly focused on managing arrivals from Tunisia, while the former Trapani hotspot, opened in 2016, was converted into a CPR (administrative detention facility) in 2020. A total of 1,947 persons were accommodated in hotspots at the end of the year 2022, 93% of them in Sicily and 7% in Apulia.[8]

In the first reception centre of Crotone, a space has been set up to carry out activities of first identification, fingerprinting and registration of the will to apply for international protection, as well as the formalisation of pushback or expulsion orders. This is abundant and compelling evidence that hotspot operational procedures are de facto implemented there, although the facility is not formally identified as such.[9]

Over the last few months, ASGI, through the In Limine project, undertook monitoring of the Roccella Jonica structure (in the Calabria region), which is responsible for the first reception of migrants arriving on that territory and for the related procedures. Several requests for generalised civic access were submitted to the Prefecture of Reggio Calabria, from which it emerged, first of all, that a new hotspot is about to be realised in Roccella Jonica and that the necessary preparatory activities are in progress.[10]

More recently, the Government has expressed the intention to activate a new hotspot in Friuli Venezia-Giulia, probably in Trieste, intended to managing the identification and detention of migrants reaching Italy through the Balkan Route.[11]

Decree-Law 20/2023 provided that, up to 31 December 2025, the Lampedusa hotspot could be managed by the Italian Red Cross, in derogation from the rules on tendering procedures.[12] This provision became necessary following the continuous mismanagement issues registered in the facility (See paragraph Conditions in hotspots), in order to ensure the functionality of a structure considered fundamental for the Italian system. The same Decree also provided for the possibility for the Government to activate new hotspot facilities throughout the national territory, with the same functions of identification, selection and administrative detention, again in derogation from the rules relating to tender procedures.[13] The identification of suitable locations to host new hotspots and their activation has been entrusted to the Extraordinary Commissioner appointed by the Government as part of the declaration of the state of emergency.[14]


Governmental first reception centres

The Reception Decree provides that the governmental first reception centres are managed by public local entities, consortia of municipalities and other public or private bodies, specialised in the assistance of asylum applicants, selected through public tender.[15]

At the time of writing, 9 first reception centres are established in the following regions in Italy:

First reception centres by region
First reception centre Region
Gorizia (CARA Gradisca d’Isonzo) Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Udine (Caserma Cavarzerani) Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Foggia (Borgo Mezzanone) Apulia
Bari (CARA Palese) Apulia
Brindisi (Restinco) Apulia
Crotone (Sant’ Anna) Calabria
Caltanissetta (Pian del Lago) Sicily
Messina Sicily
Treviso (ex Caserma Serena) Veneto

Source: MoI, available at: https://bit.ly/3y7vo52.

In early 2019, some centres were closed by the Government.

The Hub centre located in Bologna, Mattei, is now classified as CAS. Other governmental centres working as first accommodation facilities but not classified as first governmental centres by MoI are the one of Fernetti, in Trieste, called Casa Malala, and the one in Pordenone, Caserma Monti, both in Friuli Venezia Giulia.[16]


Temporary facilities: CAS

In case of temporary unavailability of places in the first reception centres, the Reception Decree provides the use of Emergency Reception Centres (centri di accoglienza straordinaria, CAS). The CAS system, originally designed as a temporary measure to prepare for transfer to second-line reception, expanded in recent years to the point of being entrenched in the ordinary system. The Reception Decree adopted in August 2015 missed the opportunity to actually change the system and simply renamed these centres from “emergency centres” to “temporary facilities” (strutture temporanee).

The CAS are identified and activated by the Prefectures, in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior. Following Decree Law 113/2018, CAS facilities can be activated only after obtaining the opinion of the local authority on whose territory the structures will be set up.[17] Activation is reserved for emergency cases of substantial arrivals, but applies in practice to all situations in which, as it is currently the case, capacity in ordinary centres is not sufficient to meet the reception demand.

The term CAS is a formal classification related to the temporary function of the reception facility, but does not in itself define its nature. The forms that CAS facility can take are in fact extremely varied, going from small apartments that managing bodies rent from private citizens to collective centres obtained within entire buildings, from camps organised with containers and tents to former army barracks. The tender specifications scheme, in fact, provides for the possibility of setting up CAS in “single housing units”, in collective centres with less than 50 places, centres with a capacity between 50 and 300 places, or collective centres with more than 300 places.[18]

Following the reform of the accommodation system made by Decree Law 130/2020, the CAS are specifically designed only for the first accommodation phase and for the time “strictly necessary” until the transfer of asylum seekers to the SAI system.[19] The services guaranteed are the same as in the first reception centres (see Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions).[20]

Decree Law 130/2020, implemented by L 173/2020, refrained from defining time limits for transfer to the proper accommodation system implemented in SAI, thus further endorsing a temporary and precarious approach to reception for asylum seekers. In 2018, the law stated that within one year of the entry into force of the 2018 reform, the Minister of Interior should have monitored the progress of migratory flows with a view to the gradual closure of the CAS centres,[21] which has never happened; instead, these structures have been made permanent.

There are over 4,200 CAS established across Italy.[22] As underlined (see Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions), following the 2018 MoI tender specification schemes most of the small CAS facilities were forced to close, leaving the accommodation scene to large centres managed by profit organisations or big social cooperatives.

The fact that the majority of available places are currently in CAS illustrates a reception policy based on leaving asylum seekers in emergency accommodation during the entire asylum procedure. The vagueness of the timing of the transfer from CAS remained unchanged with the 2020 reform and the limited number and quality of services provided through the new tender specification schemes published in February 2021, in addition to the SAI system remaining based on a purely voluntary adhesion by the Municipalities, suggest that the situation will not change any time soon.


Provisional centres

Law 50/2023 provided that, pending the identification of available places in governmental centres or in CAS, reception for asylum seekers may be arranged by Prefect, for the time strictly necessary, in provisional structures where food, lodging, clothing, health care and linguistic-cultural mediation are the services ensured.[23]


Second reception – SAI system

The system now called SAI (Reception and Integration System, Sistema di Accoglienza e Integrazione , formerly known as SPRAR or SIPROIMI) is dedicated mainly to beneficiaries of international protection and unaccompanied minors.[24]

SAI projects can also accommodate: victims of trafficking; domestic violence and serious exploitation; persons issued a residence permit for medical treatment, or natural calamity in the country of origin, or for acts of particular civic value,[25] holders of special protection, holders of a permit for special cases (former humanitarian protection),[26] and former unaccompanied minors, who obtained a prosecution of assistance.[27] Holders of special protection, when in case of application of the international protection exclusion clauses, are instead excluded.

The activation of SAI reception projects depends on funding provided directly by the Ministry of the Interior (and not by the Prefectures, as for CAS and first reception centres) to the local authority. The latter must voluntarily apply to host a reception project in its territory and submit a detailed project to the Ministry, asking for funding. The application is evaluated by a commission and, if deemed appropriate, the local project is financed for a period usually equal to 3 years. At the end of the period financed, the Municipality holder of the project can ask the Ministry for a new three-year funding.[28]

SAI projects, even if more stable than CAS as they are based on multi annual funding that promotes the quality of interventions, are by nature “more fragile”, because adherence to the SAI system and the maintenance of such projects are entirely dependent on a local political will.[29] As mentioned, the decision by the Governments to maintain these projects in existence solely based on a voluntary adhesion by municipalities constitutes an important limitation to their widespread distribution on the national territory, which does not go in the direction of greater availability of places in this system and does not facilitate immediate access by asylum seekers to the system.

On 28 February 2023, the SAI network comprised 934 projects, for a total of 43,923 places financed, of which 679 projects (36,821 places) for ordinary beneficiaries, 214(6,299 places) for unaccompanied minors and 41 projects (803 places) for people with living with mental health conditions or physical disability. As previously mentioned, the opening of a SAI project depends on the sole will of the local administration responsible (mostly municipalities), so there is no proportional distribution in Italy: this means that the presence of SAI projects on the territory is uneven and often concentrated in Southern Italy (alone, the regions of Calabria, Campania, Apulia and Sicily count 488 projects, over 52% of the national total).[30]

While the SAI system has been slowly but constantly expanded throughout the country in the 20 years since it was set up,[31] the total amount of available places is still largely inadequate to meet the existing needs. For this reason, CAS and emergency accommodations still need to be opened and maintained. Furthermore, historically, the number of SAI seats funded by the Government and the number of SAI seats active and available differ by several thousands. This has been happening because of bureaucratic delays as well as organisational and logistical issues.

As evidenced by the extensive work of Actionaid,[32] at the date of 31 December 2021, the SAI system had more than 10 thousand funded but unavailable places. A more recent reportage from the magazine Altreconomia[33] showed that, in October 2022, against over 44,000 funded places within the SAI system, only 35,000 of them were available and even fewer, 33,000, were actually used.

As a further confirmation of the fact that national authorities are not investing strongly enough on the enlargement of the SAI system, 2021 and 2022 saw a further slowdown in the growth of the number of places financed. In fact, the authorities decided to expand only projects for unaccompanied foreign minors or vulnerable applicants,[34] and to finance additional places (therefore the extension of existing projects and not the activation of new projects) reserved for refugees from Afghanistan and (by an early 2022 legislative amendment) from Ukraine.[35] It can be argued however, that this was done in the attempt to respond to the large number of new arrivals from said countries, on the basis of an emergency response, and not to ensure a stable and necessary expansion of the SAI.


Private accommodation with families and churches

In addition to the abovementioned reception centres, there is also a network of private accommodation facilities which are not part of the national public reception system, provided for example by Catholic or voluntary associations, which support several asylum seekers and refugees.

It is very difficult to ascertain the number of available places in these forms of reception. The function of these structures is relevant especially in emergency cases or as integration pathways, following or in lieu of accommodation in S.A.I.

Other projects financed by municipalities or AMIF funds and directed at accommodating families and unaccompanied minors started.

In Bologna, for example, the VESTA project, conceived and developed by the Camelot Social Cooperative – is operational. The project, designed mainly for beneficiaries of international and special protection who reach the age of majority, provides a contribution towards the costs to the host family.[36]

The OHANA project, financed by AMIF fund, is developing accommodation for families of unaccompanied minors in the cities of Turin, Milan, Pavia, Venice, Verona Padova, Pordenone, Rome, Bari, Catania and Palermo.[37]

The NGO Refugees Welcome Italia promotes numerous initiatives of “welcome in the family” for protection holders who have had to abandon the public reception system, in particular to those who have not found a place in the SAI or have had to leave before the actual conclusion of their path of social inclusion. Refugees Welcome has developed over the years a significant network on the Italian territory, putting itself in relation both with the authorities of the reception centres and with numerous municipal administrations.[38]




[1] Source: MoI Cruscotto statistico giornaliero, available at: https://bit.ly/3SQSqYx.

[2] Report ActionAid and Openpolis, ibid, 10.

[3] The 2020 and 2021 Governmental reports can be accessed at: https://bit.ly/3y8bRCN.

[4] Article 8(2) Reception Decree, as amended by DL 130/2020, which now directly recalls Article 10- ter TUI.

[5] L 563/1995.

[6]  Article 10-ter TUI, inserted by Article 17 Decree Law 13/2017 and L 46/2017.

[7] See MoI, Migranti, a Pantelleria il nuovo Punto-Crisi, available at: https://bit.ly/4053sw2.

[8] MOI, Cruscotto Statistico Giornaliero, 31 December 2022, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3Jw6bYo.

[9] See ASGI, Il centro di accoglienza di Crotone: dati generali, i minori e le procedure di redistribuzione, available at: https://bit.ly/3LQf7sE.

[10] Source: ASGI, Roccella Ionica: situazione attuale e implementazione “approccio hotspot”, 21 February 2023, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/43u1Fmv.

[11] See RAI, Hotspot sulla Rotta balcanica. L’ex prefetto di Trieste Valenti pianifica struttura sul territorio, 15 January 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/43bUv5a.

[12] Article 5-bis (2) Decree Law 20/2023 converted with modifications into Law 50/2023.

[13] Article 5-bis (3) Decree Law 20/2023 converted with modifications into Law 50/2023.

[14] Article 2 (1a) Decree of the Chief of the Department of Civil Protection 984/2023.

[15] Article 9(2) Reception Decree.

[16] See MoI, available at: https://bit.ly/3y4dbFm.

[17] Article 11 (2) Reception Decree, as amended by Article 12 Decree Law 113/2018 and L 132/2018. Prior to the reform, the law provided that the local authorities should only be notified and issue a non-binding opinion.

[18] See Tender Specification Scheme, Ministerial Decree 29 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/41T6Ni3.

[19] Article 11 (3) Reception Decree, as amended by Decree Law 130/2020.

[20] Articles 10 (1) and 1 1(2) Reception Decree.

[21] Article 12-bis Decree Law 113/2018, as amended by L 132/2018.

[22] Source: 2021 Governmental report on the situation of the reception system, available at: https://bit.ly/3y8bRCN.

[23] Article 11 (2 bis) Reception Decree introduced by L 50/2023.

[24] According to Article 1-sexies DL 416/1989, as amended by DL 130/2020, local authorities responsible for the SAI projects “can” host in such projects also asylum seekers and beneficiaries of special protection or other protection titles.

[25] Article 1 sexies (1) DL 416/1989, as amended by DL 130/2020, citing Articles 18, 18-bis, 19(2)(d-bis), 20, 22(12-quater) and 42-bis TUI. The statuses in Articles 20 and 42-bis had been inserted by Decree Law 113/2018.

[26] Ibid, mentioning Articles 1 (9) DL 113/2018 (special cases); Article 19, (1, 1.1) TUI, amended by DL 130/2020.

[27] Article 1 sexies (1 bis) DL 416/1989, introduced by DL 130/2020. In some CAS, according to the law unaccompanied minors becoming adults can benefit from further assistance (accommodation and help) up to 21 years. It is called “prosieguo amministrativo”, administrative continuation.

[28] The funding application and assessment mechanism for the project is governed by the Ministerial Decree 18 November 2019.

[29] For a recent analysis of the impact of political preferences on the political willingness to open reception facilities, see the significant contribution from Gamalerio and Negri, Not welcome anymore: the effect of electoral incentives on the reception of refugees, in Journal of Economic Geography, available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/jeg/lbad002.

[30] See I numeri del SAI, February 28th 2023, at: https://www.retesai.it/i-numeri-dello-sprar/.

[31] See Rapporto Annuale SAI 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3Z9qQbt.

[32] ActionAid, Centri d’Italia, Mappe dell’accoglienza. Report 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3SQiQKd.

[33] Altreconomia, Scarsa programmazione, posti vuoti e persone al freddo: così ai migranti è negata l’accoglienza, available at: https://bit.ly/3ZMLD4D.

[34] Ministerial Decree no. 19125 of July 1st 2021 funded 51 UFM projects, for a total of 855 new places, via the AMIF Fund. Ministerial Decree no. 23420 of August 10th 2021 funded 44 UFM projects, for a total of 662 new places, via the AMIF Fund. Ministerial Decree no. 23428 of August 10th 2021 funded the enlargement of 37 UFM already existing projects, for a total of 797 new places, and the enlargement of 14 already existing projects for physical/mental vulnerabilities, for a total of 174 new places. Ministerial Decree no. 35936 of November 17th 2021 funded the enlargement of 1 UFM already existing project, for a total of 20 new places, and the enlargement of 1 already existing project for physical/mental vulnerabilities, for a total of 5 new places.

[35] Ministerial Decree no. 40783 of December 21st 2021 funded the enlargement of 113 already existing projects, for a total of 2,277 new places intended primarily for the reception of Afghan families. Ministerial Decree no. 1415 of 19 January 2022 funded the enlargement of 45 already existing projects, for a total of 723 new places intended primarily for the reception of Afghan families. Ministerial Decree no. 8910 of 17 March 2022 funded the enlargement of 39 already existing projects, for a total of 470 new places intended primarily for the reception of Afghan families. Ministerial Decree no. 18215 of June 9th 2022 funded the enlargement of 135 already existing projects, for a total of 3,530 new places intended primarily for the reception of Afghan and Ukrainian families. Ministerial Decree no. 30147 of 23 August 2022 funded the enlargement of 105 already existing projects, for a total of 2,325 new places intended primarily for the reception of Afghan and Ukrainian families.

[36] Bologna, Camelot presenta Vesta, per ospitare rifugiati in famiglia, available at: https://bit.ly/3y9ALDf.

[37] Ohana project, see: https://bit.ly/3jD0v28.

[38] Source Refugees Welcome Italia, Cosa facciamo, available at: https://bit.ly/42pAXdA.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation